CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — November is National Adoption Month and this year, a West Virginia non-profit is helping spread awareness of the need for adoptive and foster parents throughout the state.
“Mission West Virginia is a non-profit that helps find families for children waiting in the foster care system,” according to Kylee Hassan, the Marketing Director for Mission West Virginia.
For Adoption Awareness Month, Mission West Virginia interviewed foster families and foster children who went through the adoption process to capture their “unique perspectives” for the organization’s website and social media.
For this project, the non-profit spoke to families that were impacted by state adoption and foster care services all across the board. Hassan said that the organization spoke to families who have fostered for seven years or more and even spoke with families that just went through the adoption process as recently as this month.
“We want to hear from all of them because we need so many foster and adoptive families for all the different children in care,” Hassan said. “In West Virginia specifically, we use this as an awareness piece about the need for more foster parents and the need for those families to foster to adopt. And so, we use National Adoption Month to raise awareness of the more than 6,200–or nearly 6,200 kids that are in foster care currently in West Virginia, and the need for more families.”
Out of the 6,200 children that are currently in foster care, about 1,100 of them are legally eligible for adoption in West Virginia. Hassan said that typically, teenagers tend to linger in foster care the most “and those are the ones that really need our help.”
Hassan said that the reason why older kids 10 and older spend so much time in foster care is because of a misconception that teenagers are “bad,” when she feels they’re really just like normal kids.
“They want to have those firsts. They may have not had their first trick-or-treat even though they’re a teenager, they may have never been able to decorate the Christmas tree with a family,” Hassan said. “So there are so many firsts that you can still have with teenagers who are in foster care, and a lot of times, those are the children that need us the most. They are the children that need families to provide that safe and loving space for them, whether that is a few days or a permanent place.”
For anyone in the state who is interested in becoming a foster parent, Hassan said that Mission West Virginia can be the first step. The organization is able to answer questions anyone may have across all 55 counties of the state.
Mission West Virginia also has the ability to connect interested people to a foster care agency in their county so that they can get foster certification. She also said they’re able to provide resources to people who may not be ready to foster or adopt just yet.
“We’re just here to help and support families. So, if they’re not ready to take that leap to become certified, we can help them, link them with an agency, or help them volunteer somewhere,” Hassan said.
Hassan said that even if people don’t want to adopt or foster children, they can still help by spreading the word, either by word of mouth or by sharing one of Mission West Virginia’s graphics on social media. You can find these graphics and sample text on the organization’s website.